I was interested to read this piece on the interweb about problems in Denmark, related to domestic violence (‘DV’) and PA, which seem, for better or worse, to be inextricably linked. As you will see, the piece was written regarding a new book published in Denmark (and doubtless elsewhere) called “The Biggest Power Pig Wins” – a colourful title that betrays, in my estimation, a particular world view. The author is “connected to a network of more than 200 parents – mostly mothers”.
The first thing to say is that I have not read the book. But I don’t think that is really necessary. All we need to know is that there are two sides to all arguments, and here we see the other side, that is, the side of the victim of DV.
I have also undertaken a bit of research into Danish law. Obviously, it’s different to English law, but the general thrust of it takes us in more-or-less the same direction. But there are forks in that road, and the Danish have taken one of those forks.
It seems that, upon divorce in Denmark, parents will have joint legal custody of a child or children, and that
“Sole legal custody is only awarded if it is considered to be in the best interest of the child. There is a presumption for shared physical custody meaning that the parent who asks for sole legal custody must prove that the level of conflict is so high that it is in the best interest of the child to establish sole legal custody.”
“A normal visitation schedule for a child above three years is called a “9/5 arrangement”, meaning nine days out of 14 with the resident parent (and five days with the contact parent). The State Administration can also set up less or more contact, up to a “7/7 arrangement”. Holidays are usually split 50/50. It is difficult to obtain a different split even if the contact parent lives abroad and therefore has less every day or weekend contact.”
Now, that’s not perfect, perhaps. But it’s a lot better than we have in the UK…
Despite some digging, I have not been able to confirm rumours that in Denmark PA is a crime. If anyone can direct me to a url, that’s be great.
So, back to the book..
We are told that:
“It is assumed that a child’s failure to thrive is not caused by stressful visitation agreements but rather by the lack of cooperation between the parents. Therefore, social services regularly send divorced couples into year-long mediation processes with the purpose of improving their cooperation. Violence is reframed as a ‘disagreement’ for which the parties are given equal responsibility.
Listening to tape recordings of such meetings it becomes apparent that when a victim of violence reacts to verbal abuse during mediation, she is automatically seen as participating in the ‘conflict’. While nothing is done to stop the violations, the protective parent is coerced into ‘cooperation’ using threats that if she doesn’t, the child may be removed.”
If this is to be believed (and I have no reason yet to doubt it), it would seem that the worm has well and truly turned. The flip side of PA victims not being listened to, and the injustices of that, is that DV victims are not listened to and are seen, falsely, as toxic parents that are trying to disrupt a child’s contact with the other parent.
It is presumably axiomatic that any parent that goes out of their way to sever or disrupt the child’s relationship with the other parent is, indeed, ‘toxic’. It is also pretty obvious that domestic violence exists and that many women (and men, mind you) suffer as victims of this hideous crime. But fabricating allegations of DV with the aim of estranging the other parent (usually, but not always, the father) is an equally hideous crime.
So where lies the balance?
Would you rather live in a country where false allegations cause the breakdown of a child’s relationship with one of its parents, or another country where victims of domestic violence are the ones that are marginalised (If indeed that is true)?
Perhaps the answer is going to depend on the numbers. Which of these outcomes is more common? I am very confident that there will be no data or that, at least, it will be hard to procure. Which of these injustices is greater? I’ll leave that to you, dear reader…